I watched Grey’s Anatomy during lockdown and when George’s Dad dies, Christina comes to find him and says: “There’s a club. A dead Dad’s club. And you can’t be in it till you’re in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss…” you don’t know how it feels.
This was the first time I’d heard of the Dead Dad’s club and I’m sorry if the term offends you, though when I heard it, I instantly appreciated the light and dark to it as I’m in the club and know the light and darkness of this kind of grief.
I read this article about the club and it resonated with me, especially the part that Janine said she felt the loss more a year later than a month.
I get a little bit reflective about the losing my Dad around his birthday. It would be a day to celebrate him and most years we still do in some way, whether we go out for dinner or raise a toast or visit his grave.
My Dad passed away seven and a half years ago now, and I still sometimes don’t know what to do about the anniversaries. Mostly I document them for my own sake, I’m running out of photos I can share and condensing the grief into one day just isn’t a possibility.
Sadly, you can’t bargain with grief. It stays with you and returns as and when it wants.
Unfortunately losing a parent is something we will all experience. Fortunately for most people this will be when they’re old and have lived a full and rich life.
While everyone can emphasize (though not all do), until you’ve experienced this kind of loss you cannot comprehend how deep, complex and life altering the loss is.
25 things no one tells you about the Dead Dad’s Club
- You never stop wondering what their advice would be.
- You become immune and desensitised to people who ramble on about their Dad. It won’t feel like it does at the start, you do learn how to live with it. You almost sit outside of your body and wonder how on earth you’re coping, when it used to be so painful.
- Father’s Day will always suck. (Maybe it won’t when I have kids, but until that point).
- Whenever you have to fix or build something, you’ll feel the loss slightly more. Especially when others tell you how much their Dad helps them with moving house or building furniture.
- If you have a similar personality trait to them you feel very connected to someone who isn’t there. It adds a kind of longing and rawness to the feeling.
- You lose some of your identity for a while as half of the people that helped you forge it aren’t there.
- You grieve the days to come as well as the days that are gone. Whether that’s your graduation, wedding, big birthday’s, children. You know how it will feel on that day as you feel it already.
- Portrayals of grief and losing a Dad in TV shows, films and plays (when written well) will knock you sideways as they understand the complexity in how you feel.
- At 16 or 76 the loss feels the same.
- The impression or imprint they’ve left on your life never fades.
- You feel more protective over your family and slightly more exposed as someone who was there to protect you, isn’t anymore.
- You still feel his presence on certain occasions.
- There’s life before and life after.
- I’m a Daddy’s girl, but I don’t have a Dad and I never really know what to do about that.
- You’ll miss being embarrassed by them. Yes, really. Even though my Mum does an excellent job of that herself when she’s in the mood.
- You worry about things from gender stereotypes that you didn’t even notice before. Being burgled is a prime example, the idea of a ‘man of the house’ and so on.
- You only have the opinions they already gave you, the rest you have to imagine.
- Learning about them from other people is the single most heartbreaking and heartwarming experience.
- It’s a long process adapting to a world that they’re not in and I don’t know if you ever fully do adapt.
- It hurts in ways you don’t understand and can’t put into words.
- It is one of the hardest things you’ll ever experience so just cling on for dear life and find another member of the club to talk to.
- You relate to people at different ages who have lost their Dad as they know how you feel.
- How people behave in relation to this information says a lot about them and if it’s bad this should be a major red flag in friendships or relationships. Don’t ignore them as they say more about someone’s character than you can possibly imagine.
- Dreams about them are nice, but also triggering.
- There’s no right or wrong way to process it, whatever you have to do is understandable.
You either know or you don’t, there’s no in between with the Dead Dad’s club.
Are you a member of the Dead Dad’s club?